2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 2/20/2018 10:56 PM

Conant finishes home slate with a victory

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By Lou Nunez, Jr.
Daily Herald Correspondent

Another era in Conant's storied boys basketball history has come to an end.

Tuesday night's regular-season finale marked the 38th and last time the Cougars' four-year duo of Ryan Davis and Ben Schols played on their Perry Gym home floor.

Together, they helped to bring back championship basketball to the East side of Hoffman Estates with deep postseason runs over their first three seasons.

As freshmen, they helped end an eight-year regional title drought.

Year two saw them help bring the Cougars an MSL crown for the first time since 2008, and a sectional championship which ended a nine-year drought.

Last year, Conant won a third straight regional crown in a record-tying 27 win campaign that put them in a second straight sectional final.

And in a 68-49 win over Wheeling on Tuesday in an MSL crossover, the Cougars added to their list of accomplishments: a third straight 20-win season as host Conant picked up its fourth straight victory to close out the regular season at 20-7.

"I feel like we're starting to kick things into high gear," Davis said. "We've started to pick up our intensity as we gained confidence in one another."

The hosts used a 13-0 run over nearly the first 5:30 of the second period to go ahead 26-9 on a 3-point play by Vermont recruit Davis at the 2:34 mark.

Davis had 7 of his game-high 33 during that span, and Conant closed the half up 28-14. Wheeling (7-18) came no closer than 12 in the third quarter.

The 6-foot-9 Davis had a game-high 12 boards to go with a pair of blocks and a steal.

Wheeling channeled its efforts on the offensive end from the perimeter, taking 32 of its 39 field goal tries from beyond the arc and connecting on 13 of them.

Wildcats senior guards Phil Bucko (14 points) and D. J. Godlewski (12 points) both had 4 treys, followed by junior Michael Best (9 points) with 3.

Junior Anthony Wachal scored 9 points for Conant, and senior Joe Arriaga added 8 points and 4 assists.

Schols, who scored 5 points in his home finale, produced a nifty pair of assists inside to Davis in the third quarter.

Schols said the memories have been flooding back to him as he, Davis, Arriaga and fellow seniors Scott McColaugh, Matt Jensen, and Erik Lundstrum witnessed some of the sophomore game that proceeded their contest.

"It's been crazy," said Schols, who recently committee to St. Ambrose. "There have been a lot of magnificent times, especially just being around these guys, growing up together with them."

First-year Cougars coach Jim Maley sees his squad playing at a good overall level heading into next week's Class 4A regional at Deerfield. Conant has a No. 5 sectional seed and on Tuesday will meet the winner of Monday's play-in between No. 12 seed Lake Forest and No. 21 seed Round Lake.

A potential rematch with fourth-seeded Libertyville, which beat Conant in overtime during the St. Viator Thanksgiving tourney in November, could follow next Friday if both teams advance.

"When you get to the state tourney you're capable of beating anyone while at the same time they can beat you as well," Maley said. "And that is if we're fortunate to win that first game Tuesday. We're going to have to work hard if we want to have a long postseason."

Wheeling, a No. 16 seed, will open its postseason in the Class 4A New Trier regional versus 18th-seeded Elk Grove on Monday. A return to Winnetka on Tuesday to face the second-seeded Trevians awaits the Wheeling-Elk Grove winner.

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